- Fans call out Madonna for edited Eurovision video Tuesday 9:36 PM
- Partnered Twitch streamer temporarily banned for airing troll’s racist message Tuesday 8:45 PM
- Reddit theory says fans are wrong about who won ‘Game of Thrones’ Tuesday 6:52 PM
- Elon Musk hires ‘absolute unit’ sheep meme creator to be Tesla’s social media manager Tuesday 6:12 PM
- Jason Momoa stands by his Khaleesi after the ‘Game of Thrones’ finale Tuesday 4:05 PM
- Airbnb, 23andMe partner for creepy heritage travel recommendations Tuesday 3:26 PM
- Rep. Katie Porter goes viral again for trouncing Ben Carson (updated) Tuesday 3:26 PM
- This deepfake takes Bill Hader’s Schwarzenegger impression to the next level Tuesday 2:58 PM
- Wanda Sykes rails against Trump and offers much-needed perspective in ‘Not Normal’ Tuesday 2:41 PM
- Man arrested after allegedly threatening to shoot YouTube employees Tuesday 2:13 PM
- Some House Dems are backing away from the Save the Internet Act Tuesday 1:40 PM
- Thousands sign petition calling for Danny DeVito to play Wolverine Tuesday 1:02 PM
- Jason Mitchell fired from ‘Desperados’ and ‘The Chi’ after misconduct allegations Tuesday 12:36 PM
- Police raid Black woman’s house after white neighbor complains about loud Malcolm X speeches Tuesday 12:20 PM
- ‘Transfixed’ says it’s a ‘breakthrough’ series, but it still fetishizes trans bodies Tuesday 11:04 AM
Pinboard just bought Delicious, which brings a wild story full circle
The backstory of social bookmarking site Pinboard is pretty amazing, and its turning point was a mass migration of fanfic readers.
After years of rivalry, the social bookmarking site Pinboard just acquired the social bookmarking site Delicious. On the surface, this is a fairly banal piece of tech news. But it has an excellent backstory, involving a fan community’s desire to organize its X-rated fanfic in peace.
In the late 2000s, Delicious (then known as del.icio.us) was the home of fandom bookmarking. People from LiveJournal fandom used it to collate their favorite fanfics, including a meticulous tagging system for subgenres and romantic pairings, plus text blurbs commenting on each bookmark. It acted as a communal recommendation library where fans could peruse each other’s bookmarks and mini reviews.
Yahoo owned Delicious between 2005 and 2011, during which time the site plummeted in value from an estimated $15-30 million, to an estimated $1 million when Yahoo sold it to AVOS, a company owned by the founders of YouTube. AVOS then overhauled the site in 2011, instantly making it unusable to most fandom bookmarkers. Fans stopped using the site in droves, and began to migrate to Pinboard, tentatively paying the one-time joining fee of $9.50. Many non-fandom users left for similar reasons, but the fan exodus was interesting due to the unexpected reaction of Pinboard’s CEO.
Pinboard is run by one guy, Maciej Cegłowski. When fanfic readers started testing the waters at Pinboard, Cegłowski was receptive to their needs—an unusual response, when fanfic wasn’t quite as mainstream as it is today. (Remember, much of this community was women who used Delicious to catalog NC-17 Harry Potter porn by subcategories like kink, mood, word count, and character pairings.)
Cegłowski collaborated with fans to figure out what they wanted, which ranged from basic needs (AVOS had made the “/” sign unsearchable on Delicious, killing the option to search for fanfic pairings) to a crash course in fandom slang and social media habits. He ended up documenting the process in a slideshow called “Fan is a tool-using animal,” explaining how fans had originally turned Delicious into their own fanfic search-engine, and how the community collaborated on a mindbogglingly detailed Google Doc of advice for Pinboard. The site soon became more fandom-accessible than Delicious, offering a dual front page that split Pinboard’s mainstream tech users from the trending fandom bookmarks.
Pinboard’s fandom impact is smaller than Delicious’s was in the late 2000s, partly because Pinboard isn’t free, and partly because fans have since moved from LJ to their own exhaustively tagged and bookmark-able fanfic site: Archive of our Own. However, the Delicious/Pinboard situation remains an object lesson in listening to the needs of your users. Pinboard paid attention to an underserved audience who knew exactly what they wanted, and it worked out pretty well for everyone.
Maciej Ceglowski spent the next five years dragging Delicious on Twitter, and this week the story came full circle. Delicious’s current owners, Delicious Media, sold the site to Pinboard for a paltry $35,000. The site will now be shuttered, with Pinboard hoping to absorb Delicious’s remaining users.
For a fee.
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor